This is not a drink likely to be loved by food snobs, and unlike traditional teas it requires some mastication.
So what is bubble tea? Also sometimes known as boba tea or pearl milk tea, it starts with a fruit tea or milk tea base. The star ingredients are the chewy black tapioca balls which you suck up through an extra wide straw. They have a flavour and texture reminiscent of jelly sweets and are something of an acquired taste.
The tea was first sold from Taiwanese tea shops in the 1980s. Now ubiquitous in its homeland, it is also popular in America and Australia. You can buy bubble tea in outlets across London, mainly in Chinatown, but Bubbleology has the advantage of being bonkers.
The science theme is a witty twist. You won't find baristas here but 'bubbleologists' in white coats, who are trained in the authentic Taiwanese method for making bubble tea. Laboratory flasks full of neon potions and scientific diagrams on giant chalkboards give them the perfect playful backdrop. In keeping with the theme you are encouraged to experiment and customise. Take your tea hot or cold, add optional ingredients and turn the sweetness up or down to your taste.
Giant chalkboards complete the mad laboratory decor.
The range of milk teas includes almond, honeydew, papaya, and assam. You can also opt for tea infused with natural fruit flavourings such as kumquat, ginger, and mango. All of their teas are finished with the tapioca balls as standard. Other extras worth exploring are flavoured jelly, and strawberry or passion fruit popping boba that you burst open in your mouth.
Naturally you wouldn't expect humdrum accompaniments to such an unconventional beverage. The Taiwanese-inspired snacks here sound like something the drunk and peckish would dream up. When did you last eat a condensed milk and icing sugar or garlic butter (with seaweed garnish) toasted sandwich? I tried the coconut butter cream toastie, which has a velvety filling and is topped with toasted coconut flakes. It was so substantial that sadly the plastic cutlery buckled at the sight of it. Nevertheless it was rich, novel, and serious competition for any cake.
Be warned, the cafe is popular with customers from nearby Chinatown and also lures in the pub and theatreland crowd. A Saturday evening visit could therefore cost you a few minutes in the queue, but that should give you time to think up flavour combinations.
You'll discover there is more to tapioca than the ghastly stuff from your school days. In fact, it makes an intriguing variation on the nation's favourite drink.